Friday, December 19, 2014

Rise and Fall of Bandhavgarh 6

Lodges which are doing false bookings are actually forcing small lodges out of business and increasing corrupt practices.
This is not good.
Big lodges do not improve local economy at all, this is being proven many times but because they have clout in the system so they get upper hands in every move of the management.
This should not happen any more.
High cost of entry fee has already removed local tourists (from near by towns) from the scene. People who are not able to visit the jungle only because of the cost are loosing interest in every conservation move.
Their thinking is "this is all for rich people's game so why we look at that side at all." (read why help in conservation of anything)
Some policies needs to change to save the interest of a genuine tourist.

In previous para I used a word "Local Tourist".
Let me put here what I mean with that. 
In early 70's to till 90's people from nearby town and cities use to visit Bandhavgarh and when they have any guest they use to bring them here to show them a Tiger. Many people use to arrange family functions on saturday or sunday so they can visit Bandhavgarh on sunday morning to see a Tiger on Tiger show.
In those days people from surrounding areas use to feel proud of Bandhavgarh. 

I remember so many families from Satna, Amarpatan, Maihar, Katni, Jabalpur, Shahdol, Umaria,Chandiya, Birsinghpur Pali and Budhar who use to bring their guests here. 
Mr Hasan the then Field Director (1981 -83)started a tradition that whenever there is a Tiger show near the main gate he allowed Tala villagers to see the Tiger without charge. Forest deptt, White Tiger Forest Lodge and Jungle Camp vehicle use to ferry the villagers.
Mr R.C.Sharma went a step further and allowed locals free entry and Tiger show in the park on last day of the season, 30th June.
This became a permanent fixture and only broken after the transfer of Late Sh Sumukh Joshi.
These things made a big impact on their (locals) mind and everyone was treating National Park as OURS.
Now we don't see that feeling in villagers heart or mind.
It's a big loss for conservation.

Now we see a completely changed behaviour of villagers. Till few years back villagers use to take cattle lifting as a simple norm in their life style.Then the N.G.O. started pumping in their pocket.
Only to ensure that villagers make more hue and cry for their cattle and they (NGO) stand there as their (Villagers) sole supporter.
This and the corruption made things worst for animals.
I must tell you that forest deptt staff never suffers from malpractices and villagers never wants any kind of wild animal around them.
So basically it's the NGO and some petty politicians made them greedy for the money and changed there thinking.
I have seen a film in which some big NGO working in villages around Bandhavgarh providing drip irrigation system to villagers is giving them only 16 mm or 12 mm pipe. They make holes in these pipe to run the water like a jet.
I dont see it as a help for villagers? I see it as a more help for NGO.
Film will bring more money in NGO's pocket. 
So in all things are not in favour of wildlife.
People are going away from it.     

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Rise and Fall of Bandhavgarh 5 -- Gohni meadow.

Caryl and Kenneth Sherman are with us since last few days. They were a regular visitor to this park from 1990 to 2006, every time staying for ten days. 
They Got addicted to Bandhavgarh after seeing Sita and her cubs.
While watching Tigers Next Door film they remembered the days when we saw the Jungle cat with kittens in Rajbehra or saw the blind cub coming back from Garhpuri or blind cubs interaction with spotted deer. 
One day in late 1990's they wish to buy Gohni meadow for the park. I talk to all villagers and settled the deal. They agreed to accept the money in Registrar office at the time of Registry. We were waiting for them in Registry office Umaria but none of them turned up.
Today when we were in that area I showed them the meadow which they wanted to gift to the park. I wish if that day that deal would have struck then things may have been different. 
In early 80's when Mr Hasan was Director here he asked us to take our guest to Gohani meadow to look for Chinkara, neelgai and other birds. He did say that this is a private land and only to discourage the villagers coming close to the park we need to go out.
One important thing public can see here is park boundary and the Gohni gate. Both are built far away from park boundary. 
Why? 
Only to keep the human disturbance away from park boundary.
That was the one reason too why Mr L.K.Choudhary, Field Director put C.P.T. instead of Chain link fence.  
Now we see villagers are invited to open the tea shops more than 700 mtrs inside the Gohni gate. 
Now there is no chance for those foxes and Jackals to raise their family in Gohani meadow.
This is what we are doing with all the hard work of our previous Directors of Bandhavgarh Ntl Park.



Friday, December 5, 2014

Rise and Fall of Bandhavgarh: 4

Last year I discussed this matter with one officer that  after the retirement of Kuttappan Bandhavgarh is not left with any good Mahavat. So some Mahavat should be called here to teach these Characutters because most of them doesn't know the job of Characutter.
As it happens it never happened.
Yesterday while coming out of the park in the evening I saw few characutters taking their elephants to the forest to leave them for free grazing in the night.
What shocked me was that they all were hobbled at the gate itself. With the front legs hobbled they were chained to a tree on the edge of the forest.


This was new method. 
Usually they were taken to the forest and in the area they wants them to graze they hobble their forelegs and put a long chain in one of the hind feet to leave a drag mark on the road.
Characutter goes in the morning to the spot where he left them and follows the chain mark to bring them back to the camp.
I myself have done that many times.

Rise and Fall of Bandhavgarh : 3

So another orderly to whom I met at Gulab Singh Deputy Rangers quarter during my Kanha years also inducted in forest services as Forest Guard. By virtue of his luck he got promoted faster than any other staff and by the time I met him here he was S.D.O.
I will cut this story short and tell you only about their behaviour that sometimes  how they try to please people to be in their good books.
At one time a female with her very small cubs was seen near vulture nest. Cubs were about a month old.
Most of the tourists use to wait for this tigress because she use to come on road in morning and afternoon. 
One morning when we all were waiting for her to come out suddenly we heard an elephant coming.
Within minutes this S.D.O. saab also reached in his gypsy with some other guests and instructed Mahavat on wireless to come and take them on elephant to show these cubs.
I dont know who that family was but instantly I told him that this is wrong.
He left the place immediately but later sent the gypsy and that family went on elephant.
After reaching home I decided to call a person to whom I knew in Delhi and he had power to say something in park activities.
I narrated the story and he said  "You should have told him off then and there"
I said but now he is S.D.O.
He said So what his mentality is still of that orderly.
So this is another example what makes a park name better and worst.     
Rise and Fall of Bandhavgarh - 2.
What a makes a place in to a beautiful National Park and what can destroy a National Park is the behaviour of that junior staff working in park. These can be Range Officer and below.
Here I am narrating a story of two orderly (person who works in house as labour doing all house hold chores ) who were inducted in forest department services as Forest Guard.
Anant Ram started his career as orderly in Kisli and later he was working Kisli Rest House Kitchen. He was responsible of kitchen and Housekeeping of those 6 rooms.
An honest and hard worker is always recognised quickly. 
Mr B.R.Lowelekar, the that time Field Director of Kanha Ntl Park saw talent in him and appointed him as Forest Guard.
Anant Ram was over the moon.
Now he had the authority to order some one. This is the joy he enjoyed the most at that time. Manglu was jealous of him. Manglu as Shikari was always a daily wage labour.
One day we were in Mukki and saw some people walking down the hill.
Guide and me agreed to stop and wait to see who they are.
These people were walking down the hill without any fear as we could hear them.
At last when they came out what we saw was Anant Ram bringing down a burning log from the hill.
He came straight to me and after exchanging the usual greetings he narrated the story.
Saab this log was burning since last two days but we found it today. we didn't had enough water there and nor we could bury it there so decided to bring it down to bury it in this sand.
Me and Kay looked at each other.
What to do was the question so we gave them all our breakfast water and usual things what I always did for Anant Ram.
Other time when we saw him he was cutting a burning log for the same reason, bury it. It was summer so Anant Ram was in a more comfortable dress for the season. 
Last year when I met him he had two stars on his shoulder but his working behaviour was not changed a bit. 
Long Live Anant Ram.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

White Tiger Safari in Mukundpur

The white tiger was caught by Martand Singh on May 27, 1951 from Sidhi district's Bargadi forest area and later the animal was brought to Govindarh Palace in Rewa from where it escaped the very next day and then again found in Mukundpur area about 26-27 km away from Rewa. 

Mohan then remained in the area for over two decades and its progenies spread gradually to other parts of the world, Shukla said. 

"Though its progenies made their home in different parts of the world and zoos, they were found in their place of origin till 1976 only," he said. 

"Now, the white tigers would roar again in the area after nearly 40 years once the safari would begins," the minister said. 

The zoological park already existing in Mukundur will now be known as "Mukundpur Zoo and Mohan White Tiger Safari" while the breeding centre will be named after Maharaja Martand Singh, he said. 

Madhya Pradesh 'Madhyam' will also exhibit the entire history of white tigers at the Safari to abreast the visitors about its origin and how it was first found in the forest area near here by then Maharaja Martand Singh. 

Construction in Bandhavgarh.

While going through my old papers I found a small piece of paper that says wastage of public money.
In year 2005-06 a Gents and Ladies Public Toilets were constructed at Bathan Camp.
They were used by tourists only for three months i.e. april to june 2006.
In that year park was closed in July aug Sept. When it opened again in October 2006 then people saw that they were demolished.
So if they were going to be demolished only after 3 months then why they were constructed?
This shows that there is no long term planning in forest department and nor they have any check on construction. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Territorial fight in Cats.

Male cats try to avoid physical fight. They will do that only when one is confident enough to over power the other one but female always challenge each other and never hesitate to charge.
Male cats may fight only once to decide their superiority but female fights are always very decisive. 
Most of the solitary cats have very similar behaviour.
In Bandhavgarh there is only one record of a female killed by another female for territory is of Lakshmi killed by Vijya.  

Female Tigers

Since last few months we are hearing that a tigress walked about 250 km to find the mate and her territory.
It can happen but with lots of odds.
A female cub becomes sexually matured long before a male cub from same litter.
Female cub hardly finds any competitor in her mothers territory. She starts hunting independently long before her other male siblings so some times male sibling follow her for the food.
In normal wild conditions a female cub forms her territory right next to her mother and her first mate , most of the time, is her own father. Sometimes they sandwich themselves between their mother and another females territory. (observed in Bandhavgarh)
There are rumors that a male and a female Tiger walked to Sanjay Dubri from Bandhavgarh. No photo record is posted by anyone to prove this claim.
If a male and a female Tigers are there from Bandhavgarh means they must have gone from High density area of Tala range. 
This story proves that there is no safe habitat available for Tigers between Bandhavgarh and Sanjay Dubri.
These two cases where a tigress walked 250 km and other one from Bandhavgarh to Sanjay Dubri proves that habitat outside of Protected areas is not habitable for Tigers.  
How we are going to improve this buffer zone for wildlife with ongoing increasing human population is a question for which no one has any answer in this country. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Ladakh 9th July to 29th July 2014

What attracted me back to Ladakh was the beauty of the Place. Hills, Cold desert, High Passes, Glaciers and the scenic beauty of the area. I had been there last year and year before too and I wanted to show all these places to Kay. 
We left Tala on 9th July to reach Delhi on 10th morning. Adam and Maria were flying from UK to meet us at the airport to fly to Leh. 
I was so careful about telling others that what to take and what you will need in Leh but I myself forgot putting any warm clothes. This I realised when we were about half way to Umaria. Saving grace was my cotswool shirts.
Temperature at Leh airport was about 19C at 0740 in the morning. It was warm for Leh. Ascending ten thousand feet in 90 minutes time can create problems for some people. I was worried about Kay but she was as fit as before in that atmosphere. 
My name was suggested for Photographers pass by HH Dalai Lama's office so after breakfast I went to see the concerned person for pass. Whole press set up at Chogmalsar was very well organised and I was holding my pass within 15 minutes of submitting my papers and in next ten minutes I was right in front of HH Dalai Lama.
There were more than 100000 people sitting quietly listening to him. Volunteers were serving drinking water to each and every person. Kids as young as 3-4 years were sitting quietly. This is how they learn about their sect and respect for it.
Next day we just visited Shanti Gompa and Thiksey monastery. None of us were very much interested in Monasteries. We spent three days in Leh to prepare ourselves for Ladakh weather.
Our initial planning was to stay at Chamba Hotel Thiksey but due to HH Dalai Lama's Kall Chakra we had to stay in Leh.

As usual like any other part of India, after so many years the Leh authorities realised that their sewer system needs to be upgraded so whole of the Leh market was under construction. It was a chaos. Vegetable sellers and Dry Fruit sellers had to move to little further. 
Suddenly a beautiful market was very dirty and crowded.
Our first destination after Leh was Rumbak. We had no idea about Rumabak trek. We all were completely unaware of this trek. We had to ascend 3500 feet. I was the most unfit person there. Carrying 15 KG camera bag in that heat literally killed me. After more than 6 hours time we saw a white tent and we all thought That's it. But this was our illusion.
It was Tea Tent.

Tea Tent is run by Rumbak villagers on rotation. The lady who served us tea first day was working in field next day. She told us about this rotation system. Tea tent provides Beverages and Liquor to visitors. 

To reduce the use of Bottle water some Tour company from Britain donated a Water Filter to this Tea tent but after seeing the supply pipe line most of the people don't use it. We preferred mineral water and brought our bottles back to Leh. We hardly left any rubbish in Rumbak, even batteries came with us up till Leh. 
Rumbak is an ideal example to run the Tourism in wildlife areas of India. Accommodation and other facilities in Rumbak were adequate. It was not luxury but better than staying in a Tent in Rumbak. I wish that Rumbak idea is used in Buffer Zone Tourism in M.P. and other states. 
Rumbak plains are very good place for birds, butterflies and flowers. Brown bellied dipper and Fire Fronted Serin were regularly seen. Often Blue sheep come down for a drink in river opposite Rumbak village. Thats how we saw them.

Rumbak is used as a stop over by many tourists. It has lot to offer. We enjoyed our stay there. If that weather scare was not that great then we would have stayed another two nights there. 
I recommend Rumbak for bird, butterfly and Flower photography.
Kay with Adam Dare and Maria Dare.
Rumbak river is good place to look for Brown bellied Dipper
  Most of the monastery in Ladakh are very interesting but they all lack in providing information to the tourists. Hemis and Thiksey are two very major monastery near Leh. There are some very interesting murals in these monasteries. Flash photography is not allowed so be careful. Dont be stupid like one tourist we saw who used flash and next minute he was taken out by the monk. 



It is always better to reach early in these monasteries to see prayer because that creates more opportunities for photography.
Nubra Valley - Hunder is a land of Dogs. These village dogs sleeps for whole day and bark for whole night. We stayed in Hunder village and none of us could sleep due to dogs.
It is very unfortunate that not a single wild Bactrian Camel is left there. Feel yourself lucky if you see one without tag.
Walking around camel area is good for birding.we had some very good sightings of Pika there. Those photographs are still not sorted due to lack of ID of those Pika.  

Somehow we have an unknown face in the picture. We saw snow fall while coming back from Nubra. It was good but scary.By the time we visit this place next year the roads will be more safer at Khardungla. 
A night in Leh and next morning we were heading towards Pangong lake.Cant describe the beauty of that place. One has to see it to realise the beauty. Evening light is good for photography. Adam found Wild Ass through his telescope on top of the hill. There were another herd of some animal that we couldn't recognise.





       

Friday, May 9, 2014

School Days

Since the day I started going to school  till I passed Primary school my teacher was Late Sh Mazhar Ali, a best friend of my fathers. He would call for me at school time and I used to walk holding his finger till the school gate. There he would order me go to your class and I was free. 
It was a Government school where my father was also a teacher. Late Mazhar Ali taught us from 1st standard to 5th standard. 5th standard used to be a board exam in which all 33 students passed. Farukh, Ganga, Narayan, Jagdish Soni and I are the few I remember. We all were very happy to go to middle school. When we reached there one by one we were refused admission by the High School Principal Mr Sundar Lal Chourey. That evening my father was talking to Mazhar Ali and I was instructed by Sh Mazhar Ali to inform all the boys to come to his house with their Transfer Certificate sharp at 0700 AM tomorrow.
That morning Late Sh Mazhar Ali became our leader. He was in front of us holding all the Transfer Certificates in his hand. We were asked to stand outside Principal's office. Jhabbu Dada, School Peon, couldn't believe what was happening. He looked at us and then at Mazhar Ali. Mazhar Ali didn't ask him about the presence of the Principal in his office he simply went straight in.
We started hearing their voices going louder and louder and louder.
Mazhar Ali a lean man in his early 40's came out of the office, took us out of the school gate and said you all will say Zindabad Zindabad.
Imagine the scene. We 33 students, all about 10-11 years of age standing behind Mazhar Ali in semi circle shouting Zindabad Zindabad. 
This Inqilab Zindabad kept on going for about half an hour then Mazhar Ali turned to us and said we are sitting here till you all get the admission. By now hundred or so people were standing behind us watching this agitation.
We all sat there till school time finished at 1130.
I remember very well that on that day my father, Mr Mazhar Ali, Mr Rashid Khan and Mr Tripathi (Two teachers from Middle School ) had a meeting at my house and all were of opinion that Principal has to allow the admission to every student who has a legal certificate in his hand.
Same thing started next morning at 0700 AM. Now there were more people as spectators than the day before. 
Rashid Khan and Tripathy were standing next to Mazhar Ali. Probably they were on half day leave.
After 0930 again we started Zindabad Zindabad. Soon we were asked to come in and Mr Fazal Khan our new Class Teacher, started writing our name on register.
Think of those 33 students who were never liked by the Principal. We passed our High School under that Principal only and Mr Mazhar Ali was our leader all the time.
Principal's thinking was that all 33 students can not pass the exam. There must have been some mega cheating in exam. This attitude of principal hurt Mazhar Ali very badly and he decided to take it on and won.
That was the first agitation that we all joined and it made a mega impact on our lives. I was talking to some of my old friends today and they all agreed. Some of them cried on phone and complimented me in Bhopali. We heard each others voice after 40-45 years. Narayan Singh was the best who was an in charge Principal for some 10-12 yrs in a High School, said, I remembers it every day I go to school and I see every student like us on that day. Good on him.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

George Washington

Few things in last few days reminded me of one of incident took place in Kisli in 1979. I booked an elephant in the morning for Tiger tracking and found myself sitting on elephant back next to Mr George Washington. Once the Tiger was found and Tiger show was announced we got off the elephant. A small queue of jeeps was formed on first cum first basis. Tiger show was going on smoothly. A jeep came and it was parked out of the queue. Before anyone could ask the driver to park his jeep in queue the driver came to ask the name of Range officer in charge of the Tiger Show.  Next minute he came back asking Ranger that so and so D.F.O. is calling you. 
Ranger was asked to send an elephant out of turn to this jeep so the D.F.O. and his party could see the tiger without wait. Ranger refused. Person sitting in jeep threatened him telling him do you know who am I. I am D.F.O. of such and such place.
Now it was the turn of George Washington to reply. Sir at present I know and recognize only one D.F.O. and that's Sh H.S Panwar. The day I will come under you I will start recognizing you.
That was the discipline maintained in Kanha with full support of it's director Mr H.S.Panwar.
George Washington retired gracefully as Ranger from Kanha Ntl Park. I witnessed this incident with K.P.Tiwari, and Sabir Mahavat. Later on we found out that Mr George Washington was highly respected for dedication to his work by all the senior officers including Mr Peter, that time Principle of Rangers College Koyambtore.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Bhagoda

There are so many sightings where tourists were told about Tiger ID as Bhagoda. Most of the pictures of Bhagoda that are sent to us by tourists in last three years turned out to be JOBI male. So people who keep the record of their sighting for them I am putting here a picture of Tiger that was called Bhagoda. This was Durga's male cub, who was very shy and never seen again in Tala zone after 2010 monsoon. This was the Time when B2 was still strong but Shashi / Bamera was also moving as Wanderer and dont forget that Shaki / Bokha was also a dominant male in Durga's territory so survival of a young male tiger in presence of these three strong Tigers was not possible. In those days Shashi / Bamera was fighting with everyone.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Magadhi zone

We went to Magadhi zone today morning. Not much to see but tons of information about Tiger movements. When any area gets higher density of male Tigers then male territory becomes very flexible. It's very difficult to understand their movements. Mukunda and Jobi were not seen much this year by tourists. Mukunda is in Khitauli and Jobi is in Tala Range. Mukunda started his life from a place called Mukunda, where he was born, and now he is in better part of Khitauli. He is being pushed by some male from Damdama. But who is this male is still a mystery for us. 
Blue eye is back and moving in some of the area previously owned by Jobi . Blue Eye was never strong enough to challenge Jobi after that fight in monsoon. So forced Jobi to squeeze his territory? Certainly not Blue Eye. His old wounds on his face and leg are still weeping and the hole in his leg is from abyss. So new young male those are behaving like wanderer are able to push dominant male Tigers here and there. 
That's the reason why Jobi and Mukunda were not seen regularly in their old territories. 
I agree with Boby Nowis that Magadhi is good to show the Tiger to guests but there is no beauty in landscape and wherever it was is destroyed by putting some man made object in a National Park. We forget that we don't have this concept that how a National Park should look?
When we saw a new water hole at Sukhi Patiya we laughed that now we will have the situation of Hindu Pani Musalmaan Pani in the park. (In last century this is how water was distributed to train passengers at the station) Prey and Predator will use separate water hole. A water hole is created just two hundred meters away from the stream.
Some good pictures of plant leaves and flowers. Sal, Shorea robusta is flowering well and so the Tinsa Desmodium oojeinense.
I asked our guide about Tinsa tree. He didn't knew and so the many others but same tree they recognize as Sandan. Which is another name for Tinsa. Kusum leaves are also adding some colours in the forest.


 Have you ever seen Salt Licks hanging any where else in any other National Park in the country. It did provide a good picture anyway.

 If the salt licks are put on the ground then with moisture salt seeps in the mud and even when salt lick is finished the soil of that place absorbs some salt and animal keep on licking the ground. They eat so much soil from that spot that even a small hole gets made in the ground. See the Spotted Deer in this picture. His head is in some hole.
Animals do need salt and if salt is not provided then they look for it. Here in this picture one can see the curve in the stone created by monkeys by literally licking it.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wakeeta

We were in Tala zone today. There were hardly any sighting of Tiger in this Premium zone of Bandhavgarh. I asked Driver Vinod Yadav who is coming in the park almost every day. He says there are only three Tigers that are sighted regularly in Tala zone. Bamera once in 7-8 days, then Banbehi nar bachcha once in 4-5 days and Banbehi female herself once in 4-5 days. Apart from this there are one or two sightings per week of Rajbehra or Mirchhani female.  This is very low. So what has happened in Tala zone. Let's see Wakeeta first.  She had a litter of four cubs out of which two died of starvation, one got killed by another male tiger and one cub is missing. Not seen by any tourist or any forest staff in last one month. So presently Wakeeta does not have any cubs with her. People saw her in Bhitri yesterday and today on a kill without cub so we presume she lost her last cub also.
Her three cubs from previous litter should be around three years of age. One male cubs photographs are posted by many Tourists on Tiger Nation and on Facebook but other male cub is not seen by Tourists since Nov. Similarly her female cub is also not seen. She should be raising her cubs some where by now. But where she is is not known so far. In physical presence we see one cub from previous litter age around 3 yrs moving in the park and other male is Vijya's male cub who is around thirty months old now.
Still it is very premature to say that they have left the park area because few roads on which tourism is ban so we don't get a clear picture.But this male cub is not there that's for sure. 
Tulsi is avoiding these young males and that's the reason why she has become so secretive with her new litter.   

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Damdama female aka Hami

One of my friend asked me about Hami's previous litter. Hami lives in Khitauli zone of Bandhavgarh National Park. I think it's better to put it here for everyone's information. In her last litter she had two male cubs. Those two male cubs left her in monsoon 2012 and moved away from her territory. One sub adult cub moved towards Barhi Katni and found dead, electrocuted in a poachers trap, in Feb 2013 in Katni Division about 50 KM away in crow flight from the place where he was born. Other cub is not seen or photographed till date so no news about the area he moved away. Although he is not seen in any other tourist zone. So last litter left her in monsoon 2012 and she got pregnant in Sept Oct 2013. Cubs are born in Dec some time as they are about 3 months old now. 
So now the question is - what made her to conceive so late?
What was the problem? 
We are not a scientists and don't posses that kind of back ground educational knowledge what ever we write is through our observation. I did B.Sc with Mathematics and then a Degree in Hotel management. 
I would like experts and scientists and general readers to put there views here on the blog to discuss this issue.
Do you know none of the scientific material on Tigers discuss this topic in detail.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

Online booking system


Last night I attended a meeting with Forest Deptt and other 
Hoteliers on the Tourism policy 
issues related with next year policy. What everyone thought on those points that were read by one of the S.D.O. as most of the points were already decided and people in Bandhavgarh were only called to get informed.
Apart from many other issues the major issue on which big 
Lodge people were emphasizing 
was Add On issue. That is killing them only because they 
just can't cheat anymore. 
I praise Range Officer Tala for saying in meeting that people 
book false entry and then try to
 sale it at higher cost. Someone bought an entry in Rs 6000/ today. I know this is true but
people who came to me for help doesn't have the courage to 
let me mention his name or the name of the person who sold the entry. 
R.O. Tala said that some people are earning their bread and butter through this business of 
black mailing the entry. The other thing he mentioned i the meeting that last year when he got 
360 entries cancelled it was all the big lodges who did it.
After that meeting I was talking to some people who were running the Lodge association here and some lodge owners.
Everyone says that everyone should get a fair chance of booking the entry through legal means.
And on this issue of "how to stop all these Horse trading and black mailing of entry tickets". We agreed that only way to stop this trading is " Once booked can not be cancelled" formula.  
This formula is.
Forest deptt has to stay firm on one point that they dont want more money than what they get from prescribed number of vehicles allowed in the park, as per carrying capacity. Supposedly Deptt allows 16 vehicles in Morning Safari in Tala zone through online booking. And if all 16 are booked then if anyone cancel their trip then he will not get any refund from that ticket and that ticket will not go in current booking either.
People may complain about loosing the money but it's same like booking a Train ticket on Tatkal with Railways. According to forest Deptt. "Add on facility has stopped most of the cheating by big lodges."  
Now we were told that 10% quota will go as per discretion of Field Director.
We are failed to understand that why Forest Deptt wants to have this constant headache. There phone will never stop ringing and at many times they wont have the courage to ask the person to pay for entry money also.
We know this fact very well. I am not sure about one thing whether I like it or not and that's exposing the Superior Officers after their transfer. This habit I saw not only in Forest deptt employees here but even in some Lodge Owners and Managers. They spill the beans a minute after person is relieved from the post. So in my opinion this quota system is very bad idea and lower staff will suffer due to this. 
I am posting it here only to keep it on a record and for concerned people to take notice of the malpractice taking place here.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Kanha March 2013 with Jane England.

Our visit to Kanha was postponed many times in last two years. Main reason for that was our own commitments to our own business that came up at 11th hour.
This time we clubbed our visit with our friend Jane England. Accommodations are very costly now. Every lodge in the vicinity is trying to make it a luxury lodge and, at most of the time, visitors who are interested in wildlife or who are wild lifers they don't need any luxury. They prefers a basic clean accommodation with tons of information provided by lodge. Now people will ask what is basic accommodation. Basic accommodation is a clean room with comfortable bed, clean Linen and bathroom.
If one can't control the Mosquito problem then a mosquito net should be provided. Although many people can't sleep under Mosi net. I am a very typical tough Hotelier. Providing a mosquito net in the room means Hotel Management completely failed to solve the mosquito problem in the room and they found the easiest solution to put the net on bed. 
In 1991 I was assigned to submit a report on Wildlife Tourism Industry around Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Park for Govt of India Tourism Board and Planning Commission. Our suggestion was that these Wilflife areas should be rated as Rural Tourism and no outsider should be allowed to run a lodge not even in partnership. Locals should be trained by Hotel Management Institute to run a Home Stay and none of the person should be allowed to have more than 5 rooms. And of course Govt should provide them a soft loan.
We stayed in Khatiya Hutments with Forest Department. It was nice to see Barmaiyya as a Deputy Ranger. I know him since he started his career in Forest Department. 
We stayed our first night in Khatiya Hutments (I remember them by this name only). My experience there since from the beginning, even when they were mud huts and we use to run them, was always very good. Fantastic place for watching Birds and butterflies in day time and listening calls in the night. On our first night in new block no 5 Kay woke me up in the night and said I think there is some animal out side. I said let me check. 
So when I came close to door to listen to the noise direction I found its from our room only. Then I saw few things missing from the table. Camera strap was hanging in two pieces. Biscuit packet and my lens cap was missing. Now I know the source of that noise. It was from our room only. Just near the door and window a sofa was put and rats made a nice hole in the bottom. When I moved the sofa I found my half chewed lens cap and plenty of plastic wrappers bags where they were making noise and we thought it was some animal on dry leaves. There were more than three huge size rats who escaped through the door gap.
None of us could sleep that night any more. Jane was not happy and so the us seeing these unwanted visitors in our room so we all decided to move that morning itself. 
After game drive we moved to Courtyard House. Nice new place. Needs personal touch to turn it into a Courthouse House. Lots of things needs to change there.
Kanha was as usual. No spectacular picture for me out of those 4 days. What I found in my old stock is that literally I dont need to photograph any animal there until unless I find better than what I already got. And that will be a very difficult task. Difficult to beat.
We had a nice lunch in Mandla with Rakesh and on journey back home Shailesh Dubey hosted the Lunch.
 



  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Gaur.

I was never agreed with Gaur trans location here in Bandhavgarh and will never buy any argument by anyone on this subject. I have my firm belief that Bandhavgarh has too young forest for Gaur, it does not have that kind of undergrowth that's needed for Gaur to browse. Many people in field still don't agree with this trans location but in our bureaucratic system their voices are never heard or they are never allowed to put their opinion.  
Last year a retired PCCF and CWLW of M.P. saw them feeding on Ghiriya / Bhirra / Chloroxylon swietenia.
He was shocked and surprised so much that he brought a branch of this tree to confirm his doubt on identity of this tree.
On numerous occasions when we saw Gaur we always saw them in search of food on trees. Hardly ever I saw them feeding on ground cover.
Anyway it's all done now so there is no need to moan any longer.
Out of a herd of 11 Gaur we saw 8 of them together with Bull. they were all busy munching Sal leaves here and there. An young female was cleaned by an older female. At times they both were cleaning each other but it was difficult to photograph. Good behavior seen but no photo. We saw Bull sitting chewing his cud.
There were few nice portraits. One of them may go in a book next year.
Some times general public don't understand the logic presented by Scientists. Such as the case here. If you see these adult Gaur, you will see their tip of the horns sawed off. 


Tourism Tool

This is one of the best example why Tourism should be allowed in all the areas of the park and every road available should be open to the Tourism.
I can state here one incident. Once in one of the meetings I asked Field Director that all the ranges should be open for Tourism. His instant reply was, why you want to go there I always see cattle and villagers there. I said Good let people pay and see the cattle and soon people and cattle will stop and we will start seeing wildlife there. This is when Magadhi Khitauli and Panpatha were opened for Tourism without any route system.
Magadhi and Khitauli became very popular and within two season we started seeing more wildlife and less cattle. Tourism brought the news of a Tigress with her three cubs in Khitauli Marjadgarh and a Tigress in Damdama. 
In my last three game drives I did not had much to show or write here but this morning although there were no Tigers but Gaur kept us busy for some time. And we were happy with our morning drive.
When we reached to Kitkiya, we saw that a Tendu tree is being cut and left on the road. This happened this morning. Some villager entered the park and cut this tree right next to the road on A route and while he was still in process of cutting it in a Balli (Log used in House building ) size some Tourist vehicle came and he ran away by leaving the log behind..

Majority of lodge owners or Tourists don't like going on A route because it runs along the park boundary for few kilometers and you dont see much in this stretch. I say this as a contribution of Tourists towards the park they visit. This is one of the best patrolling effort and very effective patrolling. I don't know why no one could convince the Supreme Court. Last year villagers were seen by tourist carrying a wild boar kill in Bhitri area, again on A route. 
This year my guests saw women carrying firewood from the park and leaping over the fence but by the time they reached the spot they already jumped the fence. When Guide and Driver told them that one day a Tiger will have you, they just laughed. Here are few pictures from that day 16th Feb 2014.

Minimum 5-7 villages on eastern side depends on park for firewood and for their other domestic needs from the forest. One can see footpaths everywhere on A route. Most of the labour that is engaged for patrolling in the park just walk on road and that too at the time when Tourist vehicles are already patrolling the park. This is the one reason why tourist vehicles should be allowed in the park at the time of dawn and dusk to control the illegal movement of villagers in side the park. Sorry to say this that Tourism industry always fight for timings of the park, things get decided at top level but at ground level it never materializes. In hindi we call it Fir Dhaank ke teen paant.
One Field Director allowed Villagers to use Lakhumar meadow for agricultural use. I immediately objected on this. My argument was that you don't have the authority to supersede the law.
Of course he didn't like this but because many other officers present and Retired like Mr J J Dutta agreed with my point he has to withdraw his order or asked the villagers to leave, I don't know, but animals got their land back. At the same time a person built the house right next to park boundary in Damna village. This house proves that wildlife doesn't affects crops as much as it's cried by the villagers. This house thrived in last ten years even after sharing their fence with the park.
Since last few days we could see a Loudspeaker on top of the roof of this house blaring music all the time and today I saw them throwing rubbish over the fence in park.
This must be stopped.


      

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fire line

Fire line is a tricky business in forest now. People have lost the idea of using Fire Line as a tool in Wildlife management.I still remember when all the forest staff in Kanha was asked to sit on ground in front of Kisli Rest House and Mr H S Panwar taught them the A B C D of Wildlife. Fire Line was one of the topic in that. Due to my profession, many times I had access in this kind of meetings. Nagpure, Tripathi, Choubey, Tiwari and Gulab Singh were few people who were Forester at that time and key figure in the field. In fact in those days (1978-84) I was posted in Kisli and I know for sure that in Kisli Sh B.R.Nagpure, Sh Budhailal Gope and Late Sh Ramsingh Khushram aka Kakka were the key persons in field. By mid October fire lines were cut and burnt. Fire lines were wide and long. Even on road side they were 8-10 feet wide.
Similar practice were adopted in Bandhavgarh too but only during those days when staff from Kanha was transferred here. Mr Hasan and Mr R.C Sharma as Director, Mr Ashutosh Dubey as Ranger  did lots of work here but that's an old story. 
Fire line produces new shoot for herbivores and when one meadow was burnt in previous year then next year it was divided by long and wide fire lines. Fire lines becomes a favorite spot for herbivores. Few years back when Chakradhara and Rajbehra meadow were divided by wide and long Fire lines herbivore and carnivore both enjoyed them.
Now we are seeing these fire lines being cut and burnt in the park.
It is an activity for the name sake that needs to be fulfilled. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Can Tiger see ultraviolet.

Here is an article on this subject.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2562951/Cats-dogs-sixth-sense-UV-vision-scientists-dont-know-use-it.html
This has raised another question. Can Tiger see ultraviolet? I have to discuss this issue with some Vet friends in UK and States who may have some answer to this question.
Other question that was always bugging us was that why female Tigers produce more male in their first litters.
One of our scientist friend told us that a male would like to produce more males in his first few litters so he could get rid of them while he still young and strong and in later stages only the strongest gene will survive.
We have still not seen any effects of inbreeding in Tigers although they breed in same family that we have seen in Bandhavgarh.
If any one has any other record of this please mention.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Young Tigers in Tala zone of Bandhavgarh.

All the trouble what Shashi / Bamera facing now is due to few young tigers which are about 33 months old. Their hormones are kicking and Shashi doesn't wants them in his territory but at this age he is not strong enough to fight two tigers at once. These two male cubs W1 W2 are sired by him. W code comes from their mother Wakeeta.
I am using my photographs to identify these Tigers. Shashi aka Bamera was born in Chakradhara and he left his mothers home only when he was at the age of three and half years old. He stayed this late due to that chain link fencing that was put around her mothers territory, a kilometer left of the forest rest house and on other side going all the way up to Wakeeta's territory to Damna village and beyond.
This was the worst thing to happen for Tigers in Chakradhara meadow because Pyari had four cubs and they were forced to live in her territory for extra 20 months. This meant a complete age of young generation was spent by them in Chakradhara meadow. These four cubs diminished the prey base in their mother's territory and forced her to push herself in Lakshmi's territory for her survival.
This was a very tricky time where two Tigresses were striving for  survival but they never had any actual physical fight. Thie condition of low prey base in their area forced them to delay their next litter.
The difference between Pyari's two litters was about three and half years and so was Lakshmi's.
It's a proven fact that cat's don't get pregnant if they find that they will not be able to support their litter or if there is a male conflict in their territory.  This was the time when Shashi aka Bamera came back to his motherland at the age of 5 + years.

One of Shashi's sibling's found the place for her (P13) survival in Bhitri and often she was visiting her mother Pyari and Lakshmi's territory. She was sexually matured but because of a poor territory and conflict  
with two males (Shashi her brother and B2 her father) forced her not to get pregnant.
Her brother Shashi aka Bamera was visiting her territory but never mated with her.
Siblings don't mate but father do mate with their own daughter and son mate with their mother.
Both cases are recorded in Bandhavgarh.  
Later she (P13) was shifted from here to Panna. Other three cubs two male (P10,P11)and a female (P12) moved towards Bamera village in Panpatha sanctuary.
Why towards Bamera? 
Because that was the safest area they found to be in and the Chain link fencing was open at the end of Siddhbaba on main road towards Umariya from where they could go out and come in without any interference.
Tigers need to visit an area many times before they finally choose to shift. In normal condition they do this at the age of 22 months +. Some mothers try to dump their litter by making a kill far far away from their territory and slip away quietly leaving them on kill.
A tigress here use to make several kills for the cubs. Same behaviour is noticed in domestic and other cats. (Paul Leyhausen)
Tigers do go out to look for food by leaping over the fence but that's not their favorite choice. We all know that Lakshmi got her leg struck in fence and then she limped for rest of her life.
And this does not mean that fence height should be increased to 16 feet to stop the Tigers.
We don't want to make National Parks like a zoo where animals are kept without giving them a chance to find their home by their own efforts. Fencing is already diminishing the possibilities of providing them open corridor to spread out in other areas of thin density which was one of the prime objects of creating National Parks ans Sanctuaries.
  When Shashi came back to his homeland his father B2 was a dominant male and his mother Pyari was raising her last litter. 4 Tigers were surviving in a very small territory where their father B2 was always an unexpected guest to share their meal. One day we saw Shashi aka Bamera conflicting with his mother Pyari and he slapped her so hard on the face that she could not get up for few seconds. He snarled at her, she meowed and finally left the area with her three cubs. She survived around Dhobha village mainly on cattle kill.
Now Chakradhara was empty of a female. Lakshmi's territory was so poor that often her cubs use to get starved for a week or more. Two daugters of Durga in Rajbehra were flexing their muscles. Their mother had already declared them unwanted in their homeland. Jaya overpowered Vijaya and pushed her towards Chakradhara.
Aha place is empty.
She started living their with hardly any prey. Once pushed and defeated by her own sister, gave her the experience of fight at early age. She knew what victory means, she saw that with her own sister who owns the best territory now and started pushing herself more further down in Lakshmi's territory. 
Lakshmi was a beautiful tigress. The most beautiful Tigress Bandhavgarh saw after Sita.
 Lakshmi defended her territory well but her disability of standing on her hind legs during fight made her a weak competitor. In those days Lakshmi was stall fed and when Vijaya came to know this she started visiting that area more often for a quick meal. Vijaya was moving more further in in Laksmi's territory. By now they had several fights. Vijaya almost lost her life once but survived by having an injury on face and lost eye muscles.
We presume that one day Vijaya surprised Lakshmi and her disability of getting on her hind legs gave Vijaya an upper hand.That was the last day of Lakshmi. At this time she was raising her two cubs who were about 17 months old.
These two cubs use to starve for a week or more. We think that in this situation these cubs must have been chasing every moving object that they can find. In a very similar case three cubs of Lakshmi's last litter female, were penned in Bandhavgarh. One died, other one released and one cub from that litter is still in Bahera enclosure. Thanks god that these two cubs of Lakshmi didn't go in enclosure. Vijaya knew their presence so she started visiting their area and pushed them further away on other side of main road. Although no one saw any confrontation between Vijaya and Lakshmi's cubs. Probably they themselves were avoiding Vijaya. At 17 months of age their first kill was of a Porcupine and probably with their joint effort their next kill was of a Bluebull. This proved that they could survive without external help and they formed their territory in Khitauli range but often used a water hole in Tala range.  

Last year it was said that this cub is fighting with Vijaya / Kankati's cub but the male Tiger photographed by Kim Sullivan does not match with this Lakshmi's cub.
A cub that was found dead on 4th July 2013 behind Tala rest House was said to be the male cub of Vijaya / Kankati. (Staff confirmed me). I was not here in those days so I dont have any photograph to match the stripes of that cub with any other Tiger. This year on 23rd, 24th and 25th January one of our guest saw a Young male Tiger in Hardiya area and when showed us the picture we were confused because his stripes did not match with any living Tiger in Bandhavgarh but did with that which was supposed to be dead on 4th July. 
Here is a picture taken by me on Dec 2012 in Chakradhara meadow when he was moving with his other sibling and mother.
This picture below is taken on 24th jan 14 in Hardiya area when this cub was crossing the road.
 You can see that these both the pictures are of a male Tiger and by matching the stripes on his left flank we found they both are same Tiger. His presence is well tolerated by dominant male Shashi/ Bamera only because he has not shown any sign of threat to him. 
By now in January 14 Vijaya's female cub, who is supposed to be living on fort plateau is also about 27 months old and sexually matured.
She should be looking for mate?
Why is she never seen in Chakradhara meadow by any tourist or anyone?
Only time will tell us the answers of all these questions. Here is a picture of this female cub of Vijaya / Kankati.
Shashi is having tough time in his territory. Last year he got badly injured in a fight with this new intruder Tiger in Jamuniya and probably that shattered his confidence. He was hiding for weeks,licking his wounds . 
He pushed his father out and now history is repeating itself. His two cubs from Wakeeta are at such an age where they are high on testosterone's and posing a threat for him. On few occasions we saw Shashi chasing them away but when both are together Shashi finds himself on the weaker side.
These two male cubs of Wakeeta / Banbehi female are still roaming in their parents territory and occasionally in of Tulsi's.
I saw one of them few days back and he looked hungry. Certainly they are not able to share the meal with their parents.
At this age when they are high on testosterone's, frustration makes them more aggressive and presumably one of them killed the Wakeeta's cub few days back.  
Now the question is that if we don't recognize tiger's individually than is it possible for anybody to obtain this kind of information? 
When people read the research paper of Mr Clifford Rice on Nilgiri Tahr they wonder that how accurate an information he has produced. People know very little about his technique now. He identified each and every animal individually. His method may be questionable but not his work.
So what we want to do with the Tigers?
Shall we recognize them only with their sex? and be happy with numbers?
When B2 was found out of the park he was recognized as a young Tiger of about 2-3 yrs of age. Whole staff could not identify him properly until we saw and gave them the photographs to match. 
Similarly the Mahavats and some other people feel that Shashi / Bamera was born in Bamera and he is 13 yrs old.
In India every park needs to do what Ranthambhore has done i.e.keep the photographic record.
If you try to recognize them by code nos then in a similar manner it's easier to recognize them by name.
See the example of Daddy, Banka, Charger, B2, Sita and Bachchi in Bandhavgarh and Machhli, Noor Sultan etc etc in Ranthambhore.
Since the Tiger Nation has started putting out photographic record now tourists are more curious to know about the fate of the Tiger they saw. Regular visitors always try to see the same Tiger again.
In Rajasthan the then Minister herself was contributing to Tiger Nation and naming the Tigers. There all these names have become very popular and tourists monitor them on day to day basis.
Do readers think that after seeing the popularity of names they can be monitored easily?
Would like to know readers view on this.